GM Dealers Opt for Direct Ad Confrontation With Toyota

29 March 2007

DETROIT: General Motors car dealers stateside have resorted to guerrilla action as they try to beef-up GM's advertising, which they believe is not fiery enough to defeat their mighty Japanese rival, Toyota Motor.

Individual local dealers have put together radio commercials to dispute Toyota's positioning of itself as an American car company. In addition, an email campaign urges dealers to rebuff ad claims made by the Japanese company about the toughness of its Tundra model.

Explains Ohio dealer Lou Kaltenstein: "We'd like to see corporate [ads] be as aggressive as we are, but in this litigious society, I can see why they are not focused in that direction. In a perfect world, they [GM]would be doing the same things we do."

Atlanta dealer Mark Frost has run a patriotic radio ad claiming: "Toyota recalled more vehicles last year than it sold. The reality is Toyota contributes more to our staggering national trade deficit than any other manufacturer, and those American-built Toyotas are mostly American assembled from imported parts. Folks, the reality is Chevrolet is better for you, your pocketbook and America."

Kaltenstein adds: "It is time to call a spade a spade . . . It's kind of like the movie [Network] where the guy says, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it any more!'"

The claims have been roundly dismissed by Toytota. Spokesman Chad Harp said they are "so far out of line, it's ridiculous. Last year, we recalled a little over 600,000 vehicles and sold 2.5 million in the U.S."

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff